My immediate answer: Look around our house, and you'll see an awful lot of things. Our old sofa. Bill's parents' old magazine rack. The rug we bought in Turkey. My grandmother's set of Blue Onion china. My great-aunt's baby mug and my grandfather's old coronet. The vintage boxes we bought at auction. The books I love the most. The rooster and heron prints by my sister. I could go on and on and on.
How can we have this many things in a tiny house? Shelves play a big part. The shelf that runs along the top of our kitchen windows holds a lot of the china we don't need every day. The shelf along the top of one bedroom window holds old books, family pictures and a plate and bowl we bought in Tuscany. Shelves over the TV hold that coronet, more books, my grandmother's silver and Waterford pieces we bought in Ireland.
Building in as much storage as possible into our design gives us room for things. One of our ottoman/coffee table/seats serves as our linen closet; the other houses our printer, plus office and art supplies. Under our bed, four giant drawers have room for many of our clothes, with enough extra space for backpacks and a small vacuum cleaner. Our pantry makes good use of space with full-slide-out drawers that hold food, everyday dishes and cleaning supplies. Even the space behind the oven gives us more storage for cutting boards, a pizza peel and stone, sink inserts, cooling racks and pans.
That said, we have "gotten rid of" a lot of things we used to own when we had a big home. Most of it wasn't too hard to part with. Generic furniture, unworn clothes, boxes of Christmas decor I no longer put out for the holidays, CDs, crates of pictures. The CDs and pictures we digitized. The things we didn't use or care much about, we "shared," as my husband calls it. Some of it we gave to family or friends, some we donated, some we sold.
What helped me sell some of our items of value was knowing that the money earned was going to help us change our lives. Yes, we liked the grandfather clock we'd bought. But we didn't need to keep it, and the $750 someone paid us for it added to the $700 we got for our farm table and the $400 for the bedroom furniture joined the profits from selling our house. It all became part of being able to leave our jobs and build this house. And this has been an experience worth infinitely more than all the things we've parted with.
Sorting through what we keep and what we "share" has made me value even more what I choose to keep. It's helped me recognize what's important to me and allowed me to focus on that. I've kept things from our travels, artwork that speaks to me, silver handed down to me. And I'm much more intentional about what I bring into my home now that space is limited. A new acqusition has to be extremely useful and/or remarkably beautiful to me--ideally both.
In this process, "things" have become less important to me. Sharing what I have has become easier and even pleasurable. I am more focused on how I live now, rather than what I possess. That's quite a gift.
Please click on the pictures below for more details.